Lending a hand across the globe
It’s been an interesting time in health care. Across the province, COVID-19 care ramped up leaving some clinical areas with lower patient cases as hospitals were directed to focus on safety and pandemic capacity.
At St. Joseph’s Hospital, the Roth|McFarlane Hand and Upper Limb Centre (HULC) continued to see patients with urgent and emergent needs, and the HULC hand therapy team worked quickly to implement precautions and physical distancing during necessary hands-on rehabilitation sessions. In addition, virtual rehabilitation and consultation were arranged to ensure continued patient recovery while minimizing in-hospital visits.
“Prior to the pandemic, we would typically see approximately 250 patients each week for hand therapy,” says Joey Pipicelli, occupational therapist and certified hand therapist. “With our surgical partners being directed to slow down procedures, we, too, were seeing less patients. The implementation of virtual rehabilitation helped fill the void, but we knew there was more we could do.”
During this downtime, many outpatient hand therapy and physiotherapy practices in the region had to shut down or reduce services. During this time, and to bring everyone together to share knowledge, expertise and ultimately enhance patient outcomes, the hand therapy team offered a four-part free virtual Hand Therapy Lecture Series open to all clinicians. Reaching out to their contacts, the team invited participants who may be interested in this extra education.
“We were blown away,” says Joey. “We had over 1000 participants from all over the world register for our event. We would have been happy simply getting 40 people from our area, but the level of interest was amazing.”
The goal of the education was to bring together clinicians during this difficult time to offer something to enhance the care provided to patients with upper extremity injuries. “The sessions covered various topics including the rehabilitation of elbow trauma, wrist instabilities, tendon injuries to the hand and the rehabilitation of sports related hand injuries,” states Joey. “We wanted to ensure we were expanding on current knowledge and offering something new.”
Using Zoom, physicians, fellows, hand therapists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists from more than 15 countries participated in sessions led by members of the hand therapy team.
“We were so pleased to provide this to our colleagues worldwide,” says Joey. “Despite the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, we were able to reach therapists all over the globe to enhance the care of patients who have sustained a hand or upper extremity injury. It was nice to share our expertise and see such a high level of engagement, while also recognizing the exceptional care provided by the hand therapists at St. Joseph’s."